The “2nd best” theory – Overbalancing

You might want to read part one and two first.

There is this almost obsessive need to “work on your weaknesses” pervading our lives. As a child, when I submit my report book to my dad, he would look it over, and point at some line on a page, and say something like, “How come you got a [insert low grade] for [insert some subject]?”.

After I graduated from university, I came to the “real” world. At my work reviews, my manager would go over my achievements, point at some line on his report, and say something like, “You are very good at [insert strong point], but I want you to improve on [insert weak point].”

Unless the weak point is critically hampering your progress, strengthening the weak point is a colossal waste of time!

Why is this so? Because you have little interest in it. If you had even a passing interest in it, it wouldn’t have been a weak point. You’d want to find out more more about it, even if it’s not one of your natural strengths. You have no feeling for it.

An example of a weak point worth correcting is the ability (or lack thereof) to communicate and work with fellow team members. You do want to work well with others right? Then you’d have an interest in making your relationship with them work.

This is where overbalancing comes in. In this context, it refers to improving every single skill you have, whether or not they create the most value for you. You might have heard of the 80/20 rule. 20% of your efforts produce 80% of your results. It’s hard enough finding out what your strengths are. Using the productive 20% effort on improving your weaknesses is commendable, but impractical.

Use a large part of the 80% effort on improving your complementary skills (to your strengths). The rest of the 80%? Go ahead with improving your weaknesses to do as little damage to your success as possible.